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St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Theological College Refections on St Andrew’s Symposium on St Athanasius the
St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Theological College Refections on St Andrew’s Symposium on St Athanasius the

St Andrew's Greek Orthodox Theological College

Refections on St Andrew’s Symposium on St Athanasius the Great

S t Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College recently hosted its 4th annual patristic symposium, this year dedicated to St

Athanasius the Great. But before giving an outline

of the symposium, I would like to briefy refect on

what is gradually becoming one of the College’s most important events. The symposia started as an initiative of its conveners, Fr Doru Costache and Dr Philip Kariatlis, along with some members of the faculty, to explore the theological and spiritual antecedents of the Byzantine tradition. With the blessing of the College Dean His Eminence Archbishop Stylianos, the symposia were launched with these goals in mind, and for the past four years St Andrew’s has atracted scholars from across Australia and beyond; people from diferent backgrounds and with a variety of

interests. Surprisingly, one might say providentially, many of these people have had one thing in common

– a genuine interest in, if not love for, the Church fathers. In this way, St Andrew’s has been fulflling

a very important role for both the Church and scholarship in the Australian context. On the one hand, it has provided an important forum

for Orthodox Christians to become academically reacquainted with those saints of the Church who were themselves steeped in the knowledge and intellectual culture(s) of their day (a knowledge which they nevertheless framed ecclesially). On the other hand, the College has acted as the locus of a serious revival of patristic scholarship, perhaps the frst of its kind in the Antipodes. Indeed, the humble premises in Redfern have become a haven for both presenters and atendees alike to share their insights into those aspects of the life, work, legacy, and even the milieu of the fathers with which they are acquainted. For this reason, and in a spirit of mutual learning, the symposia have been marked by a refreshing interdisciplinarity, with perspectives ranging from theology, philosophy, exegesis, spirituality, and history, thereby making them more and more atractive and accessible to the broader academic world. In doing so, the symposia have helped to give a profound and necessary witness to the spirit of the College, the vision of its Founder and the legacy of the Church fathers from both an ecclesial and scholarly perspective. As mentioned above, this year the symposium was dedicated to St Athanasius the Great, thereby

and scholarly perspective. As mentioned above, this year the symposium was dedicated to St Athanasius the

facilitating the transition from the Cappadocian fathers – to whom the past three symposia were dedicated – to the Alexandrines. Along with the shif in emphasis came a change in format. The past three symposia, dedicated to Sts Basil the Great (2009), Gregory the Theologian (2010), and Gregory of Nyssa (2011) respectively, were held as weekly

presentations (two an evening) for a period of just over a month, usually around September, each year. Due to their growing popularity, as well as

a desire to raise the scholarly standing, this year’s

symposium was organised by the conveners as a conference over two days, namely the afernoon of Friday 28 th September, and half a day on Saturday 29 th . Registration was advertised earlier this year, as well as a call for papers, with a record number of nineteen abstracts by scholars from both Australia and New Zealand being accepted by the conference panel. Indeed, as the program gradually came

together it became clear that the esteemed keynote presentation by Dr Adam Cooper, Senior Lecturer at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Life (Melbourne, Victoria) would serve as the landmark of what would be a two day journey through the life, writings and legacy of the holy Alexandrine, a true celebration for the heart and mind. At 2:40 pm on 28 th September, the Sub-Dean of the College, His Grace Bishop Seraphim of Apollonias, opened the symposium with prayer. The dismissal hymn of St Athanasius the Great was then chanted by some of the College faculty and students, followed by a brief yet insightful refection by His Grace on the way in which the saint is presented in Orthodox hymnography. The presentations then began in earnest, with two parallel sessions running simultaneously; the frst held in the College hall, the second in the adjacent hall of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady Theotokos. Those held in the College hall were begun by Revd Dr Glen O’Brien, Senior Lecturer in Church History and Head of Humanities at Booth College, who presented on ‘John Wesley and Athanasius on Salvation in the Context of the Debate over Wesley’s Debt to Eastern Orthodoxy.’ He was followed by Fr Silouan Fotineas, Parish Priest of St Nectarius Monastery (Adelaide) and a PhD Candidate at Flinders University, who spoke of ‘The Correspondence between St Athanasius of Alexandria and St Basil of Caesarea on the Arian Controversy’; and Professor Diane Speed, Dean and CEO of the Sydney College of Divinity, with

a paper on ‘St Athanasius’ Life of Anthony and the

Hagiographical Tradition.’ The frst of the parallel sessions held in the Cathedral hall was delivered

by Dr Philip Kariatlis, co-convener of the symposia and Lecturer in Theology at St Andrew’s, whose presentation was entitled ‘Soteriological Insights in St Athanasius’ On the Incarnation.’ This was followed by ‘The Features of the Theandric Unity of Christ in St Athanasius’ Leter to Epictetus’ by Mr Anthony Papantoniou, Associate Lecturer in Theology at St Andrew’s and PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney. Finally, Sr Dr Margaret Beirne, Senior Lecturer in Biblical Studies at St Andrew’s, presented on ‘St Athanasius and the Scriptures, Exemplifed in His Leter to Marcellinus.’ At the completion of these parallel sessions, afernoon tea was served in the College hall by volunteer students, namely Mr Markellos Margellis (1 st year BTh), Mr George Vrionis (2 nd year BTh), Mr George Papoutsakis and staf including Ms Zorka Simich and Mr Anastasios Kalogerakis. Conference delegates had an opportunity to exchange im- pressions and ideas whilst perusing the bookstall set up in an adjacent classroom. A range of items, usually available in the Archdiocese bookstore, were on sale, but one in particular stood out amongst the rest – Phronema 27:2. This edition of the College’s bi-annual peer reviewed journal contains articles based on papers delivered at last year’s symposium on St Gregory of Nyssa. Indeed, Phronema 27:2 is the latest in a series, edited by the conveners of the symposia, which has been based on papers delivered at the symposia; with Phronema 25 (2010) in honour of St Basil the Great, and volume 26:2 (2011) dedicated to St Gregory the Theologian (28:2, scheduled for publication in 2013, will evidently be on St Athanasius). It is envisaged that all of these articles, along with additional contributions from both the College faculty and scholars abroad, will appear in a collective volume once again edited by the conveners, entitled Cappadocian Legacy: A Critical Appraisal, which is scheduled for publication in 2013. This will be published by St Andrew’s Orthodox Press. Then came the keynote presentation, with Dr Adam Cooper employing all of his considerable scholarly gifs in addressing a topic that was both richly nuanced and existentially signifcant – ‘The Gif of Receptivity: St Athanasius and the Security of Salvation.’ Puting forward St Athanasius’ Christocentric vision of salvation, Dr Cooper emphasised the deifying efects of the incarnation of God the Son and Logos, both for the human nature he assumed and humanity as a whole. Afer some questions directed to the keynote speaker by the delegates, the frst day of the symposium came to a close with a dinner prepared by the ladies auxiliary of the Cathedral of the Annunciation.


The second day of the symposium started bright and early with a reading of the Typica service led by the Very Reverend Archimandrite Kyrillos Zissis, Parish Priest of the Cathedral, assisted by our registrar, Mr Anastasios Kalogerakis, in the College’s chapel dedicated to St John the Evangelist and Theologian. The presentations were once again held simultaneously in both the College and Cathedral halls. The sessions in the College hall were initiated by Mr Daniel Madigan, Senior Lecturer in Religious Education at Notre Dame University and PhD Candidate (at Notre Dame), who discussed ‘“Father” as a Divine and Human Name in St Athanasius and how His Apophatic Method Can Illumine the Imago Dei.’ Rifaat Ebied FAHA, Foundation Professor of Semitic Studies at the University of Sydney, next presented on ‘Quotations from the Works of St Athanasius the Great in Peter Callinicus’ Magnum Opus, Contra Damianum.’ He was followed by Mr Ian Michie, PhD Candidate at Macquarie University whose presentation was entitled ‘At the Beginnings of Christian Hagiography: St Athanasius of Alexandria and The Life of Antony.’ Revd Jonathan Douglas Hicks, PhD Candidate at the University of Otago, then spoke on ‘“Flesh of my Flesh”:

Didymus’ Trinitarian Refections on the Creation of the Church at Golgotha,’ and was followed by an additional paper by Professor Ebied entitled ‘A Short Version in Syriac and Arabic of the Gloria in Excelsis with Additions by St Athanasius the Great.’ The presentations in the College hall were then fnally capped of by Dr T. Mark McConnell’s paper on ‘Why Evangelicals Need to (More Carefully) Read Athanasius.’ I began the sessions in the Cathedral hall with a presentation entitled ‘Mundus Contra Athanasium:

Portrait of a Saint,’ and was followed by Mr Mark Baddeley, Lecturer in Doctrine and Church History at Queensland Theological College, and PhD Candidate at Oxford University, who spoke on ‘The Multivalent Scripture: Refections on Athanasius’ Readings of Gen 1-3 as an Example of Theological Interpretation of the Bible.’ The next paper, entitled ‘The Eremitic Citizen as An-chora-ite in St Athanasius’ Life of St Antony’ was by Mr Andrew Mellas, PhD Candidate at the University of Sydney. Mr Daniel Fanous, an independent researcher and published author, followed with ‘“To Whom was the Blood of God Ofered – to Satan or to the Father?” St Athanasius on the Mystery of Atonement.’ Revd Alan Galt, Lecturer in Pastoral Theology at St Andrew’s, then delivered a paper related to his feld entitled ‘Why did Athanasius Take on the World? “Integrity” and its Importance for Pastoral Ministry


Today.’ Finally, Fr Doru Costache, co-convener of the symposium and Senior Lecturer in Patristic Studies at St Andrew’s, presented on ‘The Cosmos as Scripture in Clement the Alexandrian and St Athanasius the Great.’ Afer the fnal presentations had been delivered, the delegates were ushered into the College

courtyard for a group photo before enjoying some lunch again prepared by the ladies auxiliary. This gave us all the opportunity to contemplate and discuss, over a common meal, the journey we had

all just undertaken into the life, works, and legacy of

the great Athanasius; a journey that was facilitated by both the conveners of the symposium and the College, with the blessing of its Dean.

In fact I could not envisage such an event taking place anywhere else. With friendships forged and much more lef unsaid, it is a relief to know that the conveners are already hard at work organising next year’s symposium (20-21 September, 2013) which will, God willing, bring us all together once again;

a symposium dedicated to another exemplar of

the ecclesial tradition, the holy Alexandrine father,


By Mario Baghos Associate Lecturer in Patristic Studies and Church History St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College

History St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College During the Keynote Speaker’s presentation in the College

During the Keynote Speaker’s presentation in the College hall.

the Keynote Speaker’s presentation in the College hall. Atentive delegates in the hall of the Cathedral

Atentive delegates in the hall of the Cathedral of the Annunciation of Our Lady Theotokos.